Ang still optimistic about Bulacan ecozone

Published July 4, 2022, 2:56 PM

by Emmie V. Abadilla

San Miguel Corporation (SMC) President and Chief Executive Officer Ramon S. Ang said that if all the issues raised in President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s veto could be addressed, the full potential of the Bulacan Airport Economic Zone to generate over $200 billion in export revenues annually, could still be realized.

Ang issued this statement Monday, July 4, following the President’s veto on House Bill 7575, “An Act Establishing the Bulacan Airport City Special Economic Zone and Freeport”. “We respect and abide by the government’s decision,” according to Ang’s statement.

The long-term benefits to the country of the ecozone would far outweigh and outnumber any supposed “losses” due to the grant of incentives to potential investors, the SMC executive underscored.

“Regardless of the outcome of any further government review or action on the ecozone, SMC remains fully committed to continuing on its path of growth through nation-building, and building the NMIA,” Ang pledged.

“We are eager to continue working with government, and play an active role in helping our country reach its goals — as we have faithfully and consistently done,” he added.

SMC is fully financing and building the P740 -billion New Manila International Airport (NMIA) project in Bulacan.

If approved, the Bulacan economic zone will be managed by the Philippine government, he pointed out.

Any tax incentives to be given to investors will still pass the Department of Finance’s Fiscal Incentives Review Board (FIRB) review and approval process, to ensure these are aligned with the CREATE Law.

RAMON-ANG

The CREATE Law was enacted to provide relief to foreign and local corporations already doing business in the Philippines, in light of the pandemic.

“Among our plans for the ecozone is to help create science and technology export hubs with the cheapest logistics cost, because these will be close to the airport and seaport,” Ang explained.

“We are looking to attract world-class semiconductor manufacturers, battery power storage system manufacturers, electric vehicle makers, and even modular nuclear power assemblies and other new and emerging tech industries. These industries alone will add some US$200 billion in annual exports—a big boost to our GDP,” he reiterated.

The benefits include hundreds of thousands of new jobs to be generated, which will benefit the next and future generations of young Filipino graduates, professionals, and skilled workers.

Ang also addressed the issue of NMIA being close to the Clark Airport, which was mentioned in the veto and was initially raised by the DoF under the previous administration, which said NMIA would “compete” with Clark International Airport.

Apart from the considerable distance between the two airports—Clark is approximately some 100 kilometers from Metro Manila—large and progressive cities all over the world employ a multiple airport strategy, such as Tokyo and New York, among others.

Anticipating the long-term population and economic growth of Metro Manila and Luzon provinces in the next 20-30 years, and taking into consideration the limited expansion opportunities for the current gateway, Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA)—which only has space for one runway operating at any given time, compared to NMIA’s four parallel runways—-the country would need several airports to efficiently serve Filipinos, tourists, and industries, Ang added.

“What we don’t want is to repeat the mistakes of the past where we were not quick enough to develop new infrastructure, giving rise to overcapacity and congestion on our aging roads, ports, and other facilities, and even in our skies,” he elaborated.

“Temporary fixes will not do anymore. We are building for the future, with a clear vision of a fully-developed and progressive Philippines.”

 
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